Sunday, November 05, 2006

Road Trip!

Five games. Montreal. Detroit. Columbus. St. Louis. Colorado.

This could turn the slump the Oilers are in now into one of last autumn's stature.

Or it could get this team back to basics and prove a turning point (the drama!) in their season.

The Oilers are slumping, its true. And with Roloson off his game a bit they are not stealing any games.

The quick start to the season banked them a lot of points but it got this team away from what made them successful last spring. And now they're getting hurt by the bad habits. Poor first periods. Sloppy play. A lack of urgency.

We'll see after 20 games but its interesting to see that those who have started well are the veterans - Smyth, Sykora, Staios and the kids - Smid and Thoresen.

The guys who have seen it all and the guys who have seen little. And Smith and Roloson have both been good, if not great, as well.

MacT has taken out the blender and I wish he'd just settle on something and let it develop already. At this point it seems there are a lot of square pegs. Torres and Lupul being 1A and 1B. Smyth has produced everywhere. Hemsky and Sykora do well together. Thoresen does his job everywhere.

And as for the D, sitting Shaggy makes no sense to me. I understand giving Hejda a safety valve in Smith but taking the 22 minute a game guy out instead of MAB or Greene?? Are you trying to win the game? Or does MacT feel that without Smith Shaggy is nothing?

Does anyone know?

Anyway, here's the deal. The Oilers were a good road team last season and I think this trip could be good. Back to basics and all that. Plus after a herky jerky schedule they are actually going to be playing some hockey. Hard to get in a groove when you're getting three days off here and there.

Put Thoresen back with Hemsky and Sykora. Play Smyth and Pisani together. I thought the idea was to get Fernando some quality time to show some of that flair he demonstrated last spring. Play them with either Horc or Stoll. Have Torres and Lupul play with the other.

Put MAB or Greene in the pressbox. Seriously. Keep Laddy and Staios together and let Smith babysit Hejda if that's the plan. Then let Shaggy take care of Greene. Or let Hejda and Greene do what they can.

Twenty games is usually a good benchmark to see where a team is at. It won't be long now. I think the Oilers do their best work when they're in a corner - even one they've painted themselves into - this seems to be the mark of the team from the past number of years.

I'm thinking they pick up seven points from this trip and they begin to figure out that they're not the '84 Oilers. They're the '06 Oilers. They have some work to do.

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